Deep Change

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While travelling to England, I read two of Robert Quinn’s books, Deep Change and Building the Bridge As You Walk On It.

These two books aren’t about leadership techniques. They are about what it takes to change yourself – not surface change, but deep change. When this happens, you are able to lead others, regardless of your position or role.

Quinn argues, “Anyone can become a leader of change, but to do so requires the transformation of self.” Quinn says that most of us (individually and in organizations) enter into the normal state of being through entropy. In this state, we are externally driven, internally closed, self-focused, and comfort-centered. In this state, we lose energy and eventually experience slow death. Most of us live in this state because of fear and self-preservation. Most people and organizations in this state don’t know what to do to get out, so they try harder and use techniques or behaviors to change, which does not work. (I’ve got bookshelves of books that try this approach.)

The way out is not through technique. It is through deep change. The cost is high; our organizations cannot change until we change. We cannot change until we move past techniques and actually deal with some fundamental issues.

At the heart of deep change is what Quinn calls the fundamental state of leadership. In this state, we let go of control, and become purpose-centered, internally directed, other-focused, and externally open. This isn’t a super-human state. In fact, we’ve all lived in it. Quinn provides some good advice on how to spend more time in this state (it’s never permanent). It involves “being the change you want to see in the world” (Ghandi).

Building the Bridge is very helpful for giving practical advice on how to experience this state more frequently.

I appreciated these books for a lot of reasons. They deal with root causes rather than symptoms. They are about being before they are about doing. They speak of the power of any person, regardless of position, to enter this state and transform those around them, although sometimes at great cost. You don’t have to be in a leadership position to lead.

These aren’t Christian books, but I’ve been struck with how many of the principles are biblical, especially the sections on the importance of inner transformation, and the necessity of risking self for the sake of something greater. The fundamental state of leadership resembles, on a lot of levels, how Christ lived, and the sort of dynamic you witness in the book of Acts.

I still have a lot of work to do in applying these books, and working through the exercises in Building the Bridge. They are two of the better leadership books I have read in a long time.

Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash

I'm a grateful husband, father, oupa, and pastor of Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills. I love learning, writing, and encouraging. I'm on a lifelong quest to become a humble, gracious old man.
Toronto, Canada